Part of living a happy and wholehearted life has to do with being vulnerable and letting yourself be seen fully. Learn why you should own your story and stop feeling like a character in someone else’s plot. Do you ever feel like a character in someone else’s play? Like a victim in your own story? If so, it might be time to start owning your own story and letting yourself be seen fully.
I love Brene Brown’s books The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly and I just recently started reading her latest book, Rising Strong (thank you, Elizabeth!). I’ve only gotten halfway through the introduction and I’m already reminded of her wise and thought-provoking sentiments that I love on vulnerability, wholehearted living, and being seen. I talked in detail about Brown’s thoughts on how to combat shame in a post last summer.
I can’t wait to dive deeper into Rising Strong but for now I’m already thinking about ways I can break down emotional barriers and let myself be seen fully. The background behind this concept is that in our culture we care so much about seeming buttoned up, having our shit together and being perfect that we’re afraid to let our true, real selves be seen. Ever notice how your Facebook and Insta feeds are full of happy, uplifting and positive stories? No one talks about the struggles and the painful stuff. And the truth is people don’t want to hear it on social. People only want to hear about struggles if you can follow it up with a “and this is how I overcame it and am so much better now” follow-up story.
But this is all so backwards as Brown puts it because the journey of struggling and the painful stuff, that’s where the learning happens. The struggle is as important as the outcome. And yet we can’t share this part with anyone because no one is open to hearing or receiving it so it’s harder to learn from it and make sense of it all.
According to Brown, the people that are living wholehearted lives are really good at being vulnerable. At being open with their real and imperfect selves and letting their imperfections be seen. They work to break down any barriers to feeling shame around what they feel and are honest and open with their loved ones about who they are and what they feel. They own their own stories. They are open about their past and where they’ve come from, including the failures and the falls.
Do you own the failures, stumbles and falls in your own life? What would it feel like to share these with others?
I recently owned my own story when writing the introduction to my e-book with the first sentence, “At age 13, I was diagnosed with disordered eating.” I sat and stared at this sentence for a good five minutes. Do I really want to share that part of my past? Do I want to let my readers and colleagues in on this part of my story? Will people judge me? Will they think differently of me? But then I thought who cares? If I’m going to put a published work out there and “tell my story” then I need to tell the whole story, not the abridged version I’m used to telling.
I remember being so scarred to share that I struggled with disordered eating as a child because of the profession that I’m in. I remember sitting in a class as a senior in college listening to dietetic internship directors talk about applying to internships (which is the clinical experience you must complete to become a RD) and one of the directors said if you had an eating disorder in the past and that’s why you want to become a RD, do not share that in your applications and in fact, I highly urge you to reconsider entering the profession because these things come back to the surface when you’re counseling clients. Talk about a shame game. I was so ashamed after hearing that, I decided I couldn’t share my story with anyone out of fear of being a bad dietitian. Now, years later, being more confident in my career, I know that my experiences as a child, being overweight then later underweight and seeing a dietitian both times, that has made me a better dietitian and better counselor. Because I have compassion and empathy having walked in many of my clients’ shoes.
Have you ever been a victim to the shame game? Have you withheld a part of your story because someone shamed you? Or maybe you shamed yourself? What part of your story do you still need to own? And how will you get there?
I highly recommend journaling for this. Start writing out your story. The whole story. As if no one was ever going to read it. And take ownership for it all. Know that whatever your story may be, you are worthy of love and belonging. Whatever your story is, you are enough. Once you accept this, you can start to live your life as if you are worthy of love and belonging.